Saturday, January 12, 2013

"He Must Increase; I Must Decrease"

Those were the words of John the Baptist when his disciples came to him concerned that Jesus had started to attract larger crowds than John.  It's such an awesome thing to say, "He must increase; I must decrease" (Jn.3:30) - so incredibly noble.  It sounds so spiritually "romantic" ... but then you yourself are called to live it, and all of the air goes out of the tires.  

Each of us is going to experience times, probably many times, in our efforts to serve God when all of our plans come to nought.  As best we can tell, our hearts are in the right place; and we are using our abilities as we believe the Lord wants, but our efforts do not appear to meet with success.  But when we look around at our brothers and sisters we see just the opposite - their efforts to tell others about the Lord Jesus and to be of help to others are flourishing.  We have to beware of the Enemy at moments like that; he would love nothing more than to encourage a spiritual jealousy in our hearts.

St. Paul encouraged the us to keep our heads on straight, guarding our thoughts with "the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph.6:17).  And what does the word tells us?
  • “My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity.  Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient; For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.” (Sir.2:1-6) 
  • Not to say that any of us find ourselves in this position, but when other Christian preachers were trying to outshine Paul in proclaiming Christ, his attitude was, "What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice" (Phil.1:18)
  • "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mt.20:28)
  • "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." (Lk.17:10)
It's not our kingdom that we are building.  It is not our names that we wish to magnify.  The trials we face, the setbacks are not truly defeats; they create opportunities for us to persevere in loving the Lord, in expending ourselves for love of Him.  These are the moments when He grows our souls, transforms them to be more like His - poured out on the Cross for love of the Father ... and us.  Trials in our efforts to serve purify us.  They provide opportunity to overcome, to burn away, any residual desire we have to build our kingdoms, to make a name for ourselves, with the Fire of Love - the Holy Spirit who made saints of John the Baptist and Paul.

Come Holy Spirit, 
Love of the Father for the Son,
Love of the Son for the Father,
Soul of the Mystical Body,
Font of Life,
Fire of Love,
Sweet Anointing from Above.

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